The 23,000 genes that make up the blueprint for our bodies are bundled in strands of chemical substance called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Although common to all humans these contain portions that are unique to each individual.
This makes it advantageous in resolving complicated issues.
• Paternity – to ascertain the biological father of a child.
• Twins- to genetically identify fraternal twins.
• Siblings- to establish or defy proof of blood relations in the case of adopted siblings.
• Immigration – certain visa procedures require accrediting relations.
• Criminal justice- DNA tests help identify the offender.
• DNA tests are highly sensitive and can be applied on any human sample containing nuclei- saliva, hair, and semen.
• It resists degeneration even when exposed to chemical or bacterial contamination.
• It offers a reliable method of identifying criminals thus saving time and effort.
• Older DNA profiling techniques are prone to give incorrect results.
• The more the number of people tested, the lower the statistical probability.
• DNA databases can be easily hacked; if stored on computers.
• Holding back DNA profile is considered violation of DNA ownership by some critics.
Scientists made huge advances when they recovered a 400,000 year old Neanderthal DNA sample. This facilitated the publishing of the entire genome in 2010. Some significant leads of this discovery are:
• They got the entire mitochondrial genome from the human fossil along with just one of the nuclear genome. On comparing this with different kinds of humans, the family tree thus obtained, showed how many mutations have accumulated on each length of the branch.
• This further proved that these people have Neanderthal-like bodies and a little of the Denisovan DNA, making it an ancient variant that disappeared later in Neanderthal evolution.
• Sima de los Heusosis a unique place where more DNA can be obtained, ushering in a whole new age of DNA studies.
DNA also has a secret code containing 64 codons also called duons, which are responsible for gene control; making it a powerful storage device that nature has fully exploited. Apart from carrying instructions to make proteins, the UW study reveals that DNA might even have codes to stabilize the proteins. This may radically change how scientists look for clues about a genetic disease.